2018 WCQ: Isco led Spain take charge of Group G, as other groups remain tight

2018 WCQ: Isco led Spain take charge of Group G, as other groups remain tight

The final round of matches of match day 7 for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers were completed on Saturday in Europe, with only the match between Croatia and Kosovo moved to Sunday, due to poor weather and pitch conditions.

However, in the matches played across the continent, there were some interesting results, including the coming to an end of one of the longest unbeaten records in the world.

Spain ended Italy’s 11-year unbeaten record in the European and World Cup qualifiers, while Macedonia shocked their host, Israel with a 0-1 win.

Group D

Serbia 3- 0 Moldova

This group remains very tight, with just two points now separating leaders, Serbia and Republic of Ireland in second, while Wales are a further two behind in third.

Serbia, however, did themselves a huge favor following their home win over Moldova, thanks to two first half goals from Mijat Gacinovic and Alexsandar Kolarov, and a third goal by Newcastle United man, Alexsandar Mitrovic.

The win ensured that Serbia are now outright leaders, and favorites to pick the sole automatic ticket, having gone into the match level on points with the Irish, who were held to a 1-1 draw in Georgia.

In Cardiff, a 17-year-old was the hero, as Liverpool starlet, Benjamin Woodburn came off the bench to make his senior international debut, and burning to ashes the hopes of Austria making the party in Russia with a lovely 69th minute winner to hand Wales a 1-0 victory.

“It is one of those nights to remember. It was a great way to win the game. Ben is young but we have seen enough,” manager Chris Coleman told the BBC of Woodburn.

“This is not a player we have just discovered, we have had him for some years.

“I had no worries about him at all. It wasn’t just his goal, it was his all-round play, his intelligence. I am delighted for him,” he added.

While Wales, who next face Moldova, remain beaten in the qualifiers, they stay third, two points behind Republic of Ireland, who face leaders, Serbia on Tuesday.

Group G

Spain 3-0 Italy

Both these teams were locked on 16points each going into the match in Madrid, and were also both unbeaten in the qualifiers for a while, with Italy’s stretching back to 2006.

However, that record came crashing as an Isco inspired Spain thrashed them 3-0, with the Real Madrid helping himself to two fantastic goals, before Alvaro Morata, an ex-Madrid player, came off the bench to complete the rout and end Italy’s incredible 56-match unbeaten run.

The result saw La Roja take charge of the group, three points ahead of the Italians, with a trip to  Liechtenstein up next for them.

Elsewhere in the group, Israel were shocked 1-0 at home by Macedonia, thanks to a Goran Pandev’s 73rd minute goal, while Albania expectedly picked all three points with a 2-0 defeat of Liechtenstein.

Italy host Israel on Tuesday, while Macedonia are at home to Albania.

Group I

Thia group remains the tightest of all, with four teams still within a chance of picking the automatic ticket, as just three points separate leaders, Ukraine from fourth placed nation, Turkey.

The match between Croatia and Kosovo was however moved to Sunday from Saturday, given very bad weather condition in Zagreb.

Asides Ukraine’s march to the top, as the new leaders, following a 2-0 win over visitors, Turkey, thanks to Andriy Yarmolenko, who celebrated his recent move to Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund by scoring a brace, the shocking result came in Finland.

The host went into the match having earned just one point in the qualifier, but dented Iceland’s hopes of a first appearance at the World Cup with a stunning 1-0 home win.

Elsewhere in the group, the match between Croatia and Kosovo will now be played today, poor weather forced it to be moved.

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